The People's Liberation Army (PLA) is likely to create a base in the newly established city of Sansha in the South China Sea, set up last week to administer a group of islands locked in dispute with Vietnam and other countries.
Ministry spokesman Geng Yansheng said at a press conference that China may set up local military command organs in the city according to relevant regulations.
Last week, the State Council, China's cabinet, approved the establishment of the prefectural-level city of Sansha to administer the Xisha (Paracel), Zhongsha and Nansha (Spratly) island groups - all three are under dispute -- and their surrounding waters in the South China Sea.
The islands are said to be located in potentially resource-rich area of the region.
The government seat will be stationed on Yongxing Island, part of the Xisha Islands, according to a statement from the ministry of civil affairs.
China's move to set up a city and then have a military base there could be seen as a response to Vietnam introducing a new law last week claiming sovereignty
over the Spratly and Paracel islands.
It was also announced Thursday that China had begun combat-ready patrols in the waters around the disputed islands in the region..
Asked about what China would do in response to Vietnamese air patrols over the Spratly islands, Geng said Beijing would "resolutely oppose any militarily provocative behavior,"
"In order to protect national sovereignty and our security and development interests, the Chinese military has already set up a normal, combat-ready patrol system in seas under our control," he said.
Agencies quoted Geng as saying: "The Chinese military's resolve and will to defend territorial sovereignty and protect our maritime rights and interests is firm and unshakeable."
According to the state-run Global Times, the idea of establishing Sansha city had emerged as early as 2007, but was shelved due to protests by Vietnam. "Now China has taken a concrete step, signaling its determination to administer the Nansha Islands and related sea areas. The new level of management carries more weight than the law of Vietnam."
It added: "China's actions concerning South China Sea disputes have been forced by Vietnam and the Philippines. Their provocations will meet with strong reactions from China, and push China to systematically strengthen related management."